Kamil's chicken

Kamil's chicken

Kamil's chicken

Serves Serves 4
DifficultyNot too tricky
Recipe From


By Hasan Semay
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  • For the chicken
  • 3 tablespoons kirimizi toz biber, or a really good sweet paprika
  • 3 tablespoons pul biber
  • 1 bulb of garlic , finely grated
  • 190 ml vegetable oil (7fl oz)
  • 2 lemons , juice of
  • 2.2 kg organic, free-range chicken, spatchcocked (5lb)
  • sea salt
  • For the dressed herbs
  • 20 g coriander (¾ oz)
  • 20 g flat-leaf parsley (¾ oz)
  • 15 g mint (½ oz)
  • 1 green chilli
  • 2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
  • 20 ml good-quality olive oil (4 teaspoons)
  • For the yoghurt and cumin tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 430 g cherry tomatoes (15oz)
  • 1 large clove of garlic
  • 150 g strained yoghurt (5½ oz, look for the stuff called suzme in Turkish supermarkets)
  • 20 ml good-quality olive oil (4 teaspoons)
  • sea salt and black pepper
  • lavash or other flatbread, to serve
Tap For Method
Recipe From


By Hasan Semay
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  1. Place all the ingredients for the chicken, except the chicken and salt, in a bowl and mix together. Use the marinade to cover your chicken, then leave to marinate for 1–8 hours. The marinating time isn’t super important as we’re going to double dip our chicken while it’s cooking.
  2. Heat your BBQ to a 3 count* take your chicken out of the marinade, hold it above the bowl and allow the extra oil to drip back in. Season your chicken generously all over, then place it on the BBQ, carcass-side down. The reason we are going carcass-side down first is to check out the BBQ temperature and to give ourselves a little bit of a safety net. The marinade is oil-heavy in order to create that kebab-shop smoke, BUT if we were to go skin-side down first and our grill is too hot, we’ve ruined the skin and it’s pointless after that.
  3. I like to turn my chicken regularly, every 2–3 minutes at the beginning. The temperature of the charcoal will drop once you’re cooking so, when it first goes on, it’s vital that we continuously move and turn the chicken so we don’t get any burnt spots. After about 15 minutes, slowly building smoke and colour, we can turn less regularly. Now, when our chicken is gently hissing away, have a poke and prod with a finger and feel the meat; it should feel slightly tighter but still have a waterbed-like fluidity. Check the temperature of your chicken using a meat thermometer – I reckon you’ll be at about 24–34°C/75–93°F.
  4. Now it’s time to double-dip your chicken in the marinade, again allowing the excess oil to drip off before putting it back on the BBQ. You can repeat this until the marinade is finished, or give the chicken a little baste with a pastry brush until you’re all out of marinade. Continue cooking the chicken for about 15 minutes.
  5. OK, so guys in lab coats will tell you that ‘Your chicken must have a core temperature of at least 75°C/167°F’, but those people don’t cook at home and probably also don’t care about eating a piece of meat at its absolute prime. Take your chicken to 61–62°C/141–144°F and then leave it to rest for about 15 minutes. The internal temperature will creep up to about 65–69°C/149–156°F.
  6. While the meat is resting, roughly pick the coriander and parsley leaves – a little stalk is good as that’s where the flavour’s at, plus it also adds another texture. Strip the mint leaves from the stalks. Put all the herbs in heavily-iced water. This will give the herbs a crispness and shock them back to freshness. Leave them in the iced water for a good 10 minutes. Once the herbs have crisped, take ’em out and dry them completely; if you don’t dry them thoroughly, the dressing won’t stick and will just stay in the bottom of your bowl.
  7. Slice your chilli super fine – just everyday rounds, nothing special. Put it in a bowl with the rest of the dressed herbs ingredients and mix together. To make the yoghurt and cumin tomatoes, start by toasting and crushing your cumin seeds.
  8. Dry-toast the cumin seeds in a small pan over a medium heat until they turn golden brown and fragrant, then transfer to a pestle and mortar and crush into a powder. Slice all your tomatoes in half; I like to do this horizontally as I think they look prettier – it doesn’t add anything to flavour, it’s just attention to detail. Add the cumin, then grate in the garlic. Mix in your yoghurt next and season with a big crack of salt and a little pepper.
  9. Add your olive oil and stir it in slowly. The oil and the yoghurt won’t mix so it will all look separate, but we want that. We want the hum of garlic, freshness from the tomatoes, acidity from the yoghurt and pepperiness from the olive oil.
  10. Flash your rested meat on the BBQ to warm through and then carve. When you first cut this chicken, the brown meat may look pink but, trust me, it’s cooked; I’ve cooked chickens ‘dangerously’ ever since I met Barnaby Benbow at Fifteen, years ago, and haven’t died since.
  11. This dish gets better if you just stick the meat, herbs and tomato in some warm lavash, roll it up all together and smash it.


OK, so throughout the book you’ll hear me refer to ‘counts’ as this is how I was taught to measure the heat of a BBQ as a kid. My old man taught me a basic rule. He stuck his hand out over the fire about 13cm (5in) from the grills and counted to 5.

If you put your hand over the fire and only get to a count of 1 before pulling your hand away in agony, that’s a good temperature for charring veg. A 2 count will cook fish super-fast and crispy

A 3–4 count is optimum temperature for red meat and thicker-cut steaks; still hot enough to get a good seal without fucking your presentation. When cooking chicken, I always go for a 5 count, and especially if you’re cooking boring chicken breasts.

I was always fascinated by my dad’s hands; weathered and tough, and how he could turn pieces of meat with his bare hands. But I get it now – when you’re a BBQ veteran, you don’t need tongs. Kamil, ‘Bana verdiğiniz ilham, coşku ve destek olmasaydı, bugun olduğum kişi asla olmazdım. Teşekkurler baba.’

Recipe From


By Hasan Semay